Mandela Divorce Case Starts

JOHANNESBURG -- In poignant, electric testimony, President Nelson Mandela accused his estranged wife, Winnie, of adultery Monday at the start of divorce proceedings that promised to be contentious.


Under direct examination by his lawyer, Mandela said years of rumors that his wife had been unfaithful were proven in 1992 when a newspaper editor showed him a letter allegedly written by Mrs. Mandela to a lover.


The letter "confirmed my decision never to reconcile with the defendant," Mandela said. "I'm determined to get rid of this marriage. It exists only on paper."


Mandela said he was convinced his wife wrote the letter, which was published in South African newspapers shortly after the couple separated in 1992.


The letter's writer professed love for a Johannesburg attorney named Dali Mpofu, and said her own marriage collapsed because of the affair. The letter also linked Mpofu and Mrs. Mandela to the possible misuse of African National Congress funds.


Mrs. Mandela and Mpofu, who served on her defense team during her 1991 kidnapping trial, have denied having an affair.


Mandela, 77, initiated the divorce proceedings. Weekend press reports claimed that Mrs. Mandela, 60, would seek 20 million rands (about $5 million), which she says is half of Mandela's worth.